William Godwin's Diary


The Royal Society, founded in 1660, had been based since 1780 at Somerset House, a move orchestrated by Sir Joseph Banks (1743-1820), president of the Society from 1778 until his death. Godwin had called on Banks two years before his visits to the Society and would see him several more times in 1819-20. It may be that Godwin secured entry to the Royal Society library through Banks. Godwin appears to have used his visits to research the eighteenth century Swedish astronomer Pehr Wilhelm Wargentin, who is known as the 'founding father of Swedish population statistics', probably towards his answer to Malthus, 'On Population', which was in progress at this time. On the 7th November, 1819, Godwin noted, 'Swedish argument improved'.